Planted by the River

There’s this funny thing that happens to me. It’s one of those things that you think must happen to everyone and is completely normal, but it could be the thing that later you find out, “Oh, yeah. It’s just me.” Okay, so I’m not sure which category this falls under, but I’m hoping the former and fearing the latter.

I think I have the personality of a chameleon. Those tricky little suckers just change themselves to match whatever place suits their fancy that day. Just imagine…you’re feeling happy and fun, just stand in front of a Vera Bradley bag. Feeling like a little alone time? No problem. Sit on top of the dirty laundry. You'll certainly be blending in with something no one wants to go near.

I may not be able to change my less than fabulous fashion habits by standing in front of a fashionista, but my thoughts can take on the shade of the voices around me so quickly, it’s scary. Every time I’m fortunate enough to spend a portion of my life on the obviously valuable task of watching Downton Abbey, I think in an aristocratic British accent for a good thirty minutes after the show has ended. And it’s strange how many times I’ve been in the middle of a conversation with someone and realized I’m talking like them, using phrases they’re fond of, and even using similar mannerisms to them.

I’m really, really hoping that no one has actually ever noticed this about me, because I feel a little creeped out by myself. I am guessing that few people have noticed, because I do still seem to have friends who are willing to hang out with me. Maybe it’s just pity.

And maybe I just blew it by letting you into my obviously damaged psyche.

Or maybe (hopefully) I’m not a complete nutcase. After all, our world is full of things that are made to blend in or absorb or reflect. Why should we be any different?

We are easily influenced creatures. Ever heard of Mob Mentality? There’s a reason Jesus refers to us as sheep. Has there ever been an animal as thoughtless and dumb? They follow without thinking. The trick is to be sure you’re following the right person.

So it stands to reason, if my brain functions in my surroundings more like a chameleon than an elephant, which is pretty much always obviously an elephant, no matter where you put him, then shouldn’t I be extremely careful about the situations in which I put it?

How can I be so naïve as to think that I can watch a movie polluted with sin without actually polluting my mind? How could I really believe that I can spend time with people whose native language is gossip and not learn that language myself? How can I think that listening to the lies of the enemy, so often disguised as my own thoughts or worldly wisdom, will not damage my outlook on life?

If my goal is to begin speaking in a British accent, I should definitely spend more time watching Downton. If I’d like to cuss like a sailor, I’m sure a little time on a pirate ship would do the trick. And if I’d like my thoughts and words to bear a remarkable resemblance to Christ, perhaps I should spend my time immersed in his Word.

Because I’d sure rather have Words of truth spilling out of my mouth than a phony accent that would certainly draw weird looks.

Like a chameleon, we don’t have to put forth a lot of effort to blend in or absorb or reflect. We’re easily camouflaged by or saturated with or reflective of what’s near us. A mirror doesn’t have to be turned on. It merely has to be exposed. A sponge doesn’t have to decide to get soaked, it merely has to be near liquid. A chameleon doesn’t have to hold its tongue a certain way and try really hard to blend in. It’s just what it was made to do.

So maybe the key is not trying so hard to look less like the world and more like Jesus. Perhaps the answer is simply to be near him. Maybe it’s less about effort and all about positioning. The Lord has not told us to be like what is around us. He has told us we will be like what is around us…so be careful where you plant yourself.

Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.

Psalm 1:1-3


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